Unanimous support for proposed Labuan bridge

LABUAN: Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in Labuan are unanimous in supporting the feasibility study on the proposed Labuan bridge, as announced in Budget 2018.

They hoped that the study would be expedited in the people's interest and for the island's economy but maintained that Labuan's duty-free status should remain.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) divisional chief Datuk Peter Mak said the bridge would eventually materialise due to the fact that it was economically viable both for Labuan and Sabah.

"We should be thankful to the Prime Minister for listening to the people's grievances by approving the feasibility study for the bridge construction, we are upbeat on the proposed project that will come into reality," he said at a joint press conference with MIC, UPKO and Gerakan here today.

He was of the view that the bridge would become an enabler for national integration and improve the people's social wellbeing.

"Pertinently, if the island is linked to the mainland by bridge, the high cost of living on the island could be lowered as the transportation cost to bring consumer goods and construction materials from the mainland to the island will be reduced.

"The bridge will also help the island to be accessible not only people from Sabah but also from Sarawak and neighbouring Brunei. It would greatly help lure in the investors thus spurring the island's economic activities," said Mak.

MIC Labuan chairman Datuk Ramasamy Rengasamy said the proposed bridge would help realise Labuan's vision of becoming an educational hub in the region.

"We proposed for the establishment of a top Asean university on the island many years ago, and turning Universiti Malaysia Sabah Labuan international campus (UMSKAL) into a full fledged university, but this failed to take off the ground simply because the island is not easily accessible to the mainland.

"Our business community is facing a significant workforce gap of trained and educated workers to cater for the demand in the challenging oil and gas sector; as such, we need the bridge for people like engineers willing to serve here," he said.

The approval for the feasibility study on the bridge linking Labuan to Sabah mainland was unveiled in the 2018 budget by Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on Friday.

Labuan Gerakan chairman Datuk Oi Thiam Beng said the island's tourism industry, which had long been Sabah and the country's engine of economic growth, could be further enhanced with the bridge to link the island to mainland Sabah.

"We certainly can see the influx of people coming to the island and that will benefit the island's economy and the tourism sector, which will eventually generate employment," he said.

Labuan UPKO chief Ronald James said the approval (feasibility study) reflected the government's concern for the people's needs.

"The issue had long been debated by many leaders and a number of feasibility studies were conducted by local universities," he said, adding, critical patients could easily be transported to major hospitals in the mainland via a bridge without having to rely on mercy flights or operations.

Bernama was told that the feasibility study would cost about RM14.31 million and that the construction of the bridge would take between three and four years. — Bernama





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